Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk (Penguin)
‘Wolf Hollow’ doesn’t look a lot. To be honest, I was a little tentative, for two of my favourite books of recent months have been wolf books- ‘The Wolf Wilder’ and ‘The Wolves of Currumpaw’ However, the fear was ill founded for wolves feature only incidentally, as a tale told to Henry and James, Annabelle’s brothers. ‘Wolf Hollow’ has become the third wolf book to stand on my imaginary ‘shelf of fame.’
Annabelle is the eldest child of farming parents, living somewhere in the southern/ central United States in the immediate aftermath of World War 2. She is a sensible girl, helpful, aware of the need to do her best at school and play her part at home.
When Betty Glengarry arrives new to the area to live with her grandparents, who, like Annabelle’s family, are well established in the rural township, Annabelle is ill prepared for her aggression, threats and lies. Betty’s behaviour pushes Annabelle, her family, friends and community to a breaking point wherein they question themselves, their values and ultimately the local vagrant, Toby, who had found some refuge amongst them.
This is a book about being true to yourself, your values and beliefs. Annabelle demonstrates a directness, courage and capability that is rare in lead characters. She is willing and thoughtful, with real relationships with her relatives and Ruth, her close school friend.
Lauren Wolk, the writer, in turn, demonstrates a superior storytelling capability. She can build a narrative of momentum, grip and fluency. This is a wonderful story, which I had to share immediately after reading. I hope other readers, lucky enough to turn to this book, will love it as much as I have. Bronnie